The tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgical procedure that helps to remove excess fat and skin from the stomach area. It also helps patients regain muscle tone and flatten the abdominal region in order to give them a more youthful appearance.
The length of time it takes for a tummy tuck patient to recover will depend on several factors including the type of procedure, their age, and their overall health. This article will discuss the different types of tummy tucks and what to expect during recovery.
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How Long To Recover After Tummy Tuck
While recovery from abdominoplasty is different for every individual, there is a general tummy tuck recovery timeline that is applicable in most cases. While it may be six to eight weeks before you can resume all normal activities following tummy tuck surgery, you should be able to:
- Resume working a non-strenuous job within five to seven days
- Resume most household and work duties within four weeks
- Adopt an exercise routine within four to six weeks
It is recommended that you wear a compression garment for at least six weeks post abdominoplasty. However, it should not interfere with general comfort or abilities.
The First Few Weeks
It is important that you get plenty of rest in the days following tummy tuck surgery. Having a family member or friend help with household duties during this time is ideal. It can also be helpful to set up a rest area prior to your procedure to make sure you have a comfortable place to just relax. Think about books, magazines, and other things you may want to pass the time and allow yourself the opportunity to relax and recover during this period. This can have a profound impact on your long-term results.
Some swelling and mild discomfort may be present for the first few weeks. Our doctors will provide you with medications to deal with discomfort. Swelling can be reduced by wearing your compression garment and taking several walks throughout the day. These walks can be started the day after your procedure and you are free to take as many as you like – so long as you don’t exhaust yourself.
Week Six and Beyond
By weeks six, you may be able to resume a majority of your normal activities, though it could be one or two more weeks before you are completely healed. During your recovery, you will return to our office for follow-up visits to make sure you are progressing appropriately. These visits also give us an opportunity to answer any questions you might have and address any concerns.
You can help reduce risks and improve your experience by keeping these appointments and following all of our pre and postoperative directions. These will include not smoking, getting plenty of rest, and only resuming activities after we give you the okay. Simply following these instructions can have a big impact on your comfort and results. We will cover these things in greater detail during your tummy tuck consultation and review as needed while you are in our care.
Full recovery can be expected with eight weeks, but results may take a bit longer to be realized. Swelling and bruising typically subside within this time frame, but full slimming of the midline can take a few additional months.
Be patient during this time and take care of your body to help ensure your results are both pleasing and long-lasting. This includes eating properly, exercising regularly, and taking steps to improve your health and enhance your results. We will discuss all of this in greater detail during your initial consultation to make sure you understand what will be required for the most rewarding experience.
Warning Signs After Tummy Tuck
What are some of the tummy tuck risks you should be aware of before you have this surgery? Most serious complications associated with abdominoplasty (those resulting in hospitalization) are not very common. However, other non-life threatening problems such as less-than-ideal aesthetic results occur pretty frequently. More extensive forms of abdominoplasty (such as the Fleur-de-lys that uses a T incision) have a high rate of complications with wound healing compared to a traditional tummy tuck that has only a horizontal incision. Overweight patients and those who smoke tend to have higher than average tummy tuck complication rates.
The list of tummy tuck risks below includes both very rare and fairly common complications for this extensive and invasive plastic surgery. An experienced plastic surgeon can discuss your personal risk profile based on your medical history, the elasticity of your skin, the type of abdominoplasty you need, your lifestyle, and other factors. That way, you can make an informed decision about whether the risks are worth it for you. Be sure to get answers to all your questions prior to signing the informed consent form. This may include asking what course of action your surgeon would take if you do have a complication. Knowing what to expect in advance can help you identify potential warning signs of a complication and help you stay calm if something does go wrong.
Tummy Tuck Risks During the Operation
Adverse reaction to anesthesia resulting in respiratory failure or cardiac arrest is the most serious risk since it can cause death. However, the chances of this actually happening are extremely small. If you do have a history of allergic or adverse reactions to anesthesia, you are not a good candidate for a tummy tuck. Sometimes, patients may go into shock simply from the physical trauma of the surgery itself (especially for an extensive abdominoplasty or one done in conjunction with other plastic surgery procedures). Limiting yourself to one cosmetic surgery at a time is usually the wisest course of action.
Excessive bleeding is another potentially serious side effect. This is most common in patients who are taking medications that interfere with normal blood clotting. Since there are literally hundreds of prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can thin the blood and affect clotting, it is vital for you to disclose ALL substances you are taking prior to surgery. Your surgeon will let you know what is safe to keep taking, if you need to adjust your dosage, or if you should stop taking a medication temporarily.
Surgical error such as unintentional damage to important blood vessels is another potential risk during abdominoplasty surgery. Every surgeon makes mistakes at some point. However, this is much more likely with an inexperienced surgeon or one who agrees to do the surgery even for patients who are poor candidates. To protect yourself from this risk, you should thoroughly research the background and reputation of the surgeon you choose for your abdominoplasty. If you are turned down by one or more surgeons based on your risk profile, you should reconsider whether getting the surgery is really a good idea for you.
Tummy Tuck Risks During Early Recovery
The first week or two after tummy tuck surgery is the time when a number of serious complications may arise. These include:
- Post-operative bleeding (in extreme cases, this may require additional surgery to stop the blood loss)
- Fluid accumulation (the fluid may need to be drained)
- Bloods clots including deep vein or pulmonary thrombosis which can be fatal (walking as soon as possible after surgery may help reduce this risk)
- Fat necrosis causing lumps under the skin (fatty tissue that has its blood supply disrupted by the surgery may start to die)
- Wound separation (the edges of the wound don’t knit together and the skin at the edges may die leading to permanent skin loss and the need for additional surgery to close the wound)
- Wound infection (this may be treated with antibiotics if mild and with additional surgery if severe)
The following side effects generally occur beginning immediately after surgery and persist for a long period of time:
- Pain ranging from moderate to severe. This is managed with prescription pain medication. Following post-operative instructions for rest and limiting activity may reduce the severity and duration of pain.
- Swelling is a side effect that everyone experiences. Wearing the compression garment as directed will help reduce swelling and associated discomfort.
- Skin discoloration such as bruising around the surgical site. This should fade over time.
- Numbness, tingling, discomfort or other changes in skin sensation around the incision that may linger for many months.
Tummy Tuck Risks Later In Recovery
Later in your recovery, as the initial discomfort and swelling subside, you may notice additional problems. These include:
Asymmetry: Everyone has some asymmetry between their right and left side. However, a noticeable difference may occur after surgery in some cases. Liposuction may occasionally help even things out.
Dog ears: This term refers to the bunching of the skin that may occur at the two ends of the horizontal tummy tuck incision, creating little pointy bits of skin. These may smooth out over time during healing. If they don’t, the “dog ears” will need to be snipped off and the corners of the incision re-sutured, lengthening the scar slightly.
Weird-looking navel: Your belly button may look strange if it was “untethered” and reattached higher on your abdomen as it is in a traditional tummy tuck. If the result looks too unnatural, the belly button may be surgically reconstructed. This tummy tuck risk isn’t an issue with a mini tuck which leaves the navel intact.
Visible sutures: The sutures in the skin are removed within the first two weeks after surgery (unless absorbable sutures are used). However, the deep tissue sutures that help hold the underlying tissues in place remain inside you. In some cases, these may start poking out enough to be visible under the surface of the skin or actually poke through the skin. These sutures may need to be removed.
Excessive scarring: All patients experience some scarring. However, raised and discolored scars (keloid or hypertrophic scars) that are very unsightly may require laser treatment or other revision therapies to help them shrink and fade. Talk to your surgeon if you tend to have problems with scars. There may be steps you can take during recovery to minimize scarring.
Recovery Time For Tummy Tuck
When making a decision on when to plan your tummy tuck, it is essential to consider recovery time.
Cosmetic surgeries, such as a tummy tuck or breast augmentation, are an effective and safe way to get rid of seemingly impossible-to-reduce fat. Women often opt for cosmetic surgeries when their belly fat does not respond to exercise and diet, they have loose skin, or when they are experiencing breast and / or abdominal sagging.
Regardless of the reasons, a person who undergoes a plastic surgery procedure needs plenty of time to recover. This recovery phase requires patients to follow many post-surgical instructions, which may include everything from taking plenty of rest and pain medication to eating healthy food to avoid complications.
If you are all set for your cosmetic surgery, incorporating these seven tips into your daily routine can help you speed up your recovery process.
Tips for Tummy Tuck Recovery Time
Whether it is breast implants, breast lift or abdominoplasty, remember that your body has gone through a major change. It requires minimal movement even weeks after the surgery. You need to maintain a bent-over position while sitting, standing and lying down in the first week.
If your surgeon has used drains, he/she will remove them by the end of the second week. You will have to wear an abdominal binder made of a compression garment for five weeks after the plastic surgery. After four weeks, you can resume walking exercises followed by strenuous physical activities in the fifth or sixth week.
However, if you undergo a rectus diastasis repair, many board-certified plastic surgeons recommend avoiding hardcore adnominal movements, such as weightlifting, for three months after surgery. As mentioned above, the recovery process in a plastic surgery procedure requires patience and time. Due to this, many people opt for non-surgical body contouring procedures.
Although these procedures do have a shorter recovery period, they cannot replicate the surgical results of invasive surgeries. Know that your plastic surgeon may recommend a different recovery timeline that fits your needs. But you need at least fifteen days to heal from the post-surgery effects. It is better to get some time off from any task that is physically demanding, be it household chores, child care, work assignments, or driving. Just take plenty of rest.
2. Keep Calm to See the Complete Results
A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that requires an adequate amount of time to heal and recover. That means you have to wait at least three to five months to see the complete results. Body swelling during the initial phase is normal and happens due to the temporary filling of serous fluid in the space created surgically. It may take weeks for swelling and scars to wear off. Be patient!
3. Manage Pain
Experiencing mild to moderate pain or discomfort after cosmetic procedures like abdominoplasty or breast augmentation surgery is common. The surgeries are painful due to the tightening of the musculature in the chest or abdomen. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication that can help you alleviate the pain. Make sure you have a stock of pain killers before your surgery so that you can manage aches for the recovery time of weeks ahead.
4. Focus on Your Diet
A healthy body comes with a healthy diet. That means consuming the right foods is of paramount importance when it comes to achieving speedy recovery. You need to stock up your pantry with easy-to-prepare healthy foods, juices, and water.
Keep in mind that the first few days after the surgery are more painful. You might feel nauseous and lose your appetite. This is when you need the most strength to make it through the next weeks. So eat lots of healthy food and drink plenty of water.
5. Wear Grade Compression
After surgery, your over lying soft tissues need to adjust to the new changes. This is when abdominal binders come into play. The medically designed binders are great to provide the much-needed compression and support required for speedy healing. They are comfortable to wear and heal your skin smoothly, giving it the desired shape.
Also, the society of plastic surgeons recommends wearing post-surgical bra after a breast augmentation surgery. The garment in the surgical bra keeps implants from moving and helps minimize swelling. That is why wearing a compression garment, such as a surgical bra, is one of the most critical items to buy after the surgery.
6. Avoid Smoking and Drugs
Getting infected is probably the last thing anyone would want after a cosmetic surgery. Nicotine or any other drug can sabotage your plastic surgery. Not only does it make harder for the body to recover but it also reduces tissue and blood flow. Moreover, people who are addicted to drugs or smoke are at a greater risk of catching an infection, as nicotine can impair the body’s immune system.
7. Choose Clothing Sensibly
Clothing plays a vital role in your recovery phase. Wearing comfortable clothes is essential to feel easy and relaxed post-surgery. It is better to buy loose and comfortable garments before your surgery so that you can focus on the things that are more important for your quick recovery.
To reiterate, it is important that you;
· Avoid lifting
· Eat healthy
· Take plenty of rest
· Take time to resume normal activities
· Wear comfortable clothes
· Avoid smoking
To see the full recovery with the desired results, make sure you consult your surgeon and discuss all your concerns regarding post-surgery effects.